At Least He Tells the Truth - The Blake Ashby Podcast

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Krewson, the Protesters and Hypocrisy

If you don’t know what happened, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson read the names and streets or addresses of several protesters on a Facebook Live broadcast and the protest community had a meltdown and is demanding that Krewson resign.

Krewson has apologized and the video has been removed. If I had to guess, Krewson probably thought she was doing something nice for the protesters by noting their names, and that they were city residents.

Now, I have to agree with the protesters on some levels. Having my street address read on any kind of public broadcast would be unsettling.  And at a deeper level, I believe that there should be a line between people’s private lives and their public lives. 

But part of what made me chuckle was how the protesters characterized what Krewson did.  Instead of saying it was a mistake, they suggested she released their names as a means of threatening and intimidating them.  Somehow the protesters have convinced themselves that they are such a threat to the Man that now the Man is hunting them down, and Krewson is helping with the process. 

It’s worth noting that the mythology that the protesters have created for themselves also justifies an amazing amount of hypocrisy.  At least a part of the protesters feel like they aren’t held to the same laws and standards as everyone else.  As revolutionaries, they weren’t bound by the laws or conventions of the system they were trying to overthrow.  

And that hypocrisy was on display yet again with how the protesters responded to Krewson’s actions.  How did they show their disappointment at Krewson breaching the line between public and private?  Did they protest at the Mayor’s office, her public address?  No, they protested at Krewson’s private residence, her home.  Yes, you heard me right..

My wife and I have watched the madness of the protest movement for almost six years.  And you just have to laugh at parts of it.  The self-aggrandizement.  The self-righteousness.  And the protester’s amazing ability to not see the hypocrisy of their actions.

The Fear of African American Parents

The truth is, African American parents do have reason to be more afraid when their children interact with the police. I know, I know, not a shocker, but something we need to say out loud once in a while to make sure everybody remembers.

I believe that our conversation around policing has become distorted and in many ways has painted an unfair portrait of cops.  However the fear of police interactions that African American parents and their children feel has a basis in fact, and our conversation must acknowledge that reality or we will have a hard time making progress on policing. 

As much progress as our society has made, there are still police officers that have different opinions of African Americans and Caucasians. With that difference of opinion as a starting point, it is possible for an officer to interpret the actions of an African American teenager based in part on the officer’s attitude towards African Americans. It is possible for an African American kid stopped by the police to behave perfectly and still have his or her actions interpreted as some kind of disrespect by the police officer. And if an African American kid who acts perfectly can have a bad outcome with the police, then it’s even more true of an African American kid who acts like a teenager.

And that’s what’s so terrifying to African American parents.  Because it means that no matter how good of a job they do in raising their children, no matter how polite and respectful they teach their children to be, if their child is stopped by a cop who distrusts African Americans their child is still at risk.

Policing and the Cracked Skull of a 75 Year Old Protester

The truth is, policing is a really hard profession, and it seems like we lose sight of that. It seems like we label every bad outcome as proof of bad intentions on the part of the police, and that’s just not true. It’s just not true.

What happened a week ago in Buffalo is a reminder of just how hard it is to be a police officer.  An officer made a judgement call on how to handle a protester, a 75 year old white man.  The officer’s judgement call resulted in the man suffering a traumatic head injury. 

The social justice protests of the last five years have undoubtedly made policing better, but have also made it far more complex. The officer was immediately accused of purposely harming the old protester, of being a terrible human being.  Who knows, maybe he is.  But maybe he’s not a monster.  Maybe he became a cop because he wanted to help make things better, to serve and protect.  Maybe he is a good human being doing the best he can at a really hard job – a job that most of us don’t want to do.  

We should give police officers our thanks for stepping up to serve our society.  And when an officer makes a judgement call that results in harm, we need to remember that they are human beings doing the best they can in a very hard situation. 

I Lost Another Liberal Friend Recently

I lost another Liberal friend recently. I don’t know for sure why he stopped returning calls and emails and disappeared on social media. However experience suggests it’s probably something I said about President Trump.

It’s not that I’m a Trump fan.  A longtime Republican, I voted for Clinton.  Since taking office Trump has confirmed just about every reason I had for not voting for him. But I’m also not a Trump hater.  I don’t question that he loves our country, or that he is doing what he thinks is best for America.  I also think that Trump has, in some areas, transformed our political debate for the good. 

There was a time when it was possible, even desirable, to have civil conversations with people holding different political views. I have no doubt that Trump has undermined our democratic norms. But sometimes it’s hard not to think the Left is at fault, too, in how they react to Trump and his supporters (or even people that just don’t hate him). Because they are only democratic norms if they apply for everybody in our democracy, even the people with whom we disagree. Yes, my Liberal ex-friends, even for President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Trump Doesn’t Respect the US Military

President Trump does not respect the US military, or the special role it plays in our country.

West Point is the school where Army officers are trained.  The Army had called off the West Point public graduation ceremony, deciding it was not worth the risk to the graduating cadets.  President Donald Trump overrode the decision of his military, of the chain of command, to order West Point to hold a graduation ceremony just so he could give a speech. 

I am not a Trump fan, and I did not vote for him.  But I worried less about his presidency that many of my more liberal friends.  While I knew he would batter our institutions, I was confident that they would be strong enough to withstand it.  I also actually believed Trump would realize that being reelected was dependent on being the leader of the whole country, not just those who voted for him the first time.  And finally, I thought that Trump understood and respected the special role of the military, that they were the defender of our nation, not the political prospects of any given elected leader.

I was very wrong, on pretty much every point. Trump has no special respect for the military. He views it as some combination of a prop for his daily pageant of ego and a part of the Deep State intent on thwarting his will.

I hope those many voters that respect and value our military understand the damage he is doing.

Racism, 911 and the Central Park Bird Watcher

Attention has been rightly focused on the death of George Floyd. But this has taken attention away from what happened in New York’s Central Park a few weeks ago, when a White woman threatened to call the police on an African American bird watcher.

A few weekends ago an African American bird watcher requested a White woman comply with the law and leash her dog.  Instead of doing so she threatened to call the police on the bird watcher and report that a Black man was threatening her life. She eventually called 911, making it seem as if she was actively being attacked. 

What happened in Central Park isn’t as dramatic as watching someone being slowly killed.  But in many ways its more insidious and yes, dangerous.  The police can only respond to the information they are provided.  One way to reduce police violence is to reduce the racism at the start of the process.  And that means prosecuting those people who lie on 911 calls.

A Frustrating May for Civil Rights

It’s been a rough week for our country, beginning with the death of George Floyd. But it’s been a really rough month for African Americans.  The events of May have rightfully infuriated African Americans and our civil rights community.

In mid May a video showing the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of two private citizens was released. In late May the video of a woman threatening to call the police on an African American bird watcher was released. And then a week later, George Floyd was killed, his slow death videotaped while the officer ignored his pleas. Unfortunately that is practically a catalog of the problems that African Americans have historically had with law enforcement in our country.  

Any one of these events would have been sad. But to have them all happen within a month was tragically depressing, proof of how far we still have to go remove the vestiges of slavery and racism. How far we still have to go to ensure African Americans have equal rights and equal protections in our country.  

Are the People of China Too Stupid for Democracy

China is in the process of stripping democracy away from Hong Kong. I have to ask - do the leaders of China believe their people are too stupid to choose their own government? That’s harsh wording, but also pretty much what it comes down to. The leaders of China have made the determination that most Chinese citizens aren’t able to know what is best for themselves. That the average Chinese man or woman isn’t smart enough to democratically help select their own leaders and their own government. They are better off letting the smarter people, the Chinese Communist Party members, make the decisions for them.

The Chinese leaders are on the wrong side of history. What the Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence two centuries ago is still as true today – all men and women are created equal. Even the citizens of China.

Sen. Warren and Medicare For All

Elizabeth Warren, one of the proponents of Medicare for All, has started talking about fixing Obamacare instead of tearing it out by the root and starting over again. And that’s a good thing for the Democratic Party and our country.

I know that the Medicare for All supporters have nothing but the best intentions, and I know that a government monopoly on healthcare has certain advantages. But promising Medicare as that monopoly healthcare system is not realistic, and it’s border line misleading – it’s a promise that isn’t connected to the reality of modern healthcare.

Medicare’s cost management strategies are based on the fact that every Medicare recipient is near the end of life. Medicare has no strategies in place for managing the beginning of life, or the middle of life. It has no reason to.  We do have a government health plan for people that aren’t seniors. It’s called Medicaid. So if we do move to a national healthcare plan, do you really think it’s going to be Medicare, literally the most expensive healthcare coverage in the world? Or do you think it’s going to be the least expensive we have, Medicaid, that’s actually set up for people that aren’t seniors?

Socialist Myth #1 - It Doesn’t End Greed

SURELY one of the strangest trends in today’s world is the growing fascination with Socialism, or maybe more accurately the word Socialism. A prominent progressive and Bernie supporter, Ryan Knight, just made a big splash about changing his twitter handle from @proudprogressive to @proudsocialist. But I am not altogether sure if Ryan, or any of the people using the word “Socialism” actually understand what it means. And CLEARLY they don’t understand it’s many, many intellectual flaws. So as a public service, I’m going to talk about some of the different intellectual flaws of socialism.

The first intellectual flaw is the belief that ending private ownership of the means of production ends greed.  It doesn't.  It just closes off one channel, and causes that greed to flow through a different channel.  Factory managers under socialism are just as greedy as factory managers under capitalism - they just lie about it.

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